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Florida, Michigan get all delegates, but each gets half vote

  • Story Highlights
  • Committee's compromise leaves Obama ahead of Clinton in delegate count
  • Clinton receives 87 votes and Obama 63 votes; Obama is ahead by 178
  • Boisterous crowd observes rules committee hearing
  • Clinton could appeal decision at convention in Denver in August
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After a day of wrangling in front of a sometimes unruly crowd, the Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee reinstated all of Florida and Michigan's delegates to its party convention, with each getting a half-vote to penalize the states for moving their primaries earlier than the party had approved.


Members of the Democrats' rules committee discuss the delegate issue Saturday.

The move will leave front-runner Sen. Barack Obama's lead over rival Sen. Hillary Clinton intact.

"This results in Sen. Clinton obtaining a substantial number of additional pledged delegates, but I also understand that many members of the Florida and Michigan delegations feel satisfied that the decision was fair," Obama said after a campaign event in Aberdeen, South Dakota. "Our main goal is to get this resolved so we can immediately turn the focus of the entire party on winning Florida and Michigan and delivering on the needs of the people in Florida and Michigan -- states that are enormously important, states where a lot of people are struggling."

The Florida decision, which follows the pro-Clinton results of that state's primary, was greeted by virtually all sides as an acceptable compromise on a thorny issue. But Clinton backers vowed to fight the Michigan decision, which gave the New York senator a 10-delegate edge over Obama in a state where his name didn't appear on the primary ballot.

"Today's results are a victory for the people of Florida, who will have a voice in selecting our party's nominee and will see its delegates seated at our party's convention," said a joint-statement from Clinton advisers Harold Ickes and Tina Flournoy. "[But] we strongly object to the committee's decision to undercut its own rules in seating Michigan's delegates without reflecting the votes of the people of Michigan."

With no Michigan or Florida delegates included, Obama led Clinton by 202 delegates.

The committee's ruling gave Clinton 105 pledged delegates from Florida and 69 from Michigan, with a total of 87 votes.

Obama received 67 pledged delegates from Florida and 59 from Michigan, casting a total of 63 votes.

That tally leaves Obama ahead by the equivalent of 174 delegates.

If each delegate had been granted a full vote, Clinton still would have trailed Obama. CNN's analysts weigh in on what the ruling means »

During the daylong committee meeting, supporters of Clinton, who came out ahead in both votes despite the fact the states had been penalized for moving their primaries earlier in the season, pushed the committee to give each delegate a full vote and to count the election results as they were registered.

"I feel like we should not penalize them for something they did not cause and couldn't prevent," said Alice Huffman, a California superdelegate for Clinton, noting that it was a Republican legislature that changed the date.

Huffman sponsored an unsuccessful motion that would have counted Florida's results and given delegates a full vote.

She later supported the compromise. While voicing her support, she was shouted down by the same crowed members who had cheered her effort moments earlier.

As the committee voted, people attending the open meeting applauded, cheered and booed as the vote came in.

Clinton supporters interrupted the proceedings, loudly chanting "Denver! Denver!" Denver is the site of the Democratic convention, where Clinton could appeal any decision made by the committee. Video Watch who will really decide the nomination »

"Mrs. Clinton has asked me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee," Ickes said during a fiery speech after the vote.

Later, party leaders were celebrating the compromise as a way to reinstate delegates from two crucial swing states Democrats want to win in November.

The DNC had penalized both states for holding their primaries early by excluding them from representation when the party nominates a candidate at the August convention. Follow a timeline of the dispute »

No candidates campaigned in Florida ahead of its vote, and Clinton's was the only major candidate's name that appeared on Michigan's ballot.

She received 55 percent of the vote in that state, with 44 percent of voters voting "uncommitted."

As the committee's session began Saturday, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said that deciding how to handle Michigan and Florida will be a huge step in moving past the division of a sometimes-bitter primary campaign.


"On the blogosphere, and the airwaves, emotions have run high and heated discussions have led at times to blatantly racist comments and blatantly sexist comments, particularly by some members of the media," Dean said in prepared remarks. "We know that those comments have no place in our society and certainly no place in our party.

"It has got to stop. We have got to come together and unite our party. Every one of us has the responsibility to help ensure that our party is united."

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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